The First Catholic President

If Bill Clinton could be termed the first Black president, George W. Bush could be termed the first Catholic president. No, Kennedy can’t claim that title since he made a point of not letting his membership in the Catholic church influence what he did as president. But Bush, surrounding himself with Catholic advisors, has been actually implementing many points of Catholic social teaching. So says this article: A Catholic Wind in the White House – washingtonpost.com.

Is this journalist confusing “Catholic” principles for just “Christian” principles, such as the pro-life cause? Are the Catholics influential just because they have worked out the rationale for these issues, whereas Protestants have not? Is the influence of Catholicism in the White House something for non-Catholics to be concerned about?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Bruce

    Hmm. Interesting article, but beyond Neuhaus’ statement that it is the “rich Catholic tradition” that appeals to Bush, I dont’ see any explanation for this. There are a few telling statements: Rove, an episcopalian, asking a Roman priest in to bless his office.
    And this: “Bush attends an Episcopal church in Washington and belongs to a Methodist church in Texas…”

    What a mess.

    Asking a group of Catholic leaders to Texas before his first inaugural in order to be instructed in Catholic social doctrine tells me that Bush is aware of the great political clout of Rome–perhaps on a par with Jewish influence in America. Having heard what they have to say, he may have realized that they had been thinking about this–as a group–much longer than any evangelicals he knew.

    Or maybe he’s just a really big Tom Clancy fan.

  • Bruce

    Hmm. Interesting article, but beyond Neuhaus’ statement that it is the “rich Catholic tradition” that appeals to Bush, I dont’ see any explanation for this. There are a few telling statements: Rove, an episcopalian, asking a Roman priest in to bless his office.
    And this: “Bush attends an Episcopal church in Washington and belongs to a Methodist church in Texas…”

    What a mess.

    Asking a group of Catholic leaders to Texas before his first inaugural in order to be instructed in Catholic social doctrine tells me that Bush is aware of the great political clout of Rome–perhaps on a par with Jewish influence in America. Having heard what they have to say, he may have realized that they had been thinking about this–as a group–much longer than any evangelicals he knew.

    Or maybe he’s just a really big Tom Clancy fan.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    One thing that comes to mind for me is that the Catholic “Scripture + church tradition” is an interesting parallel of the modern “Constitution + case law” interpretation of our laws. No longer does it seem that the Constitution alone is a trump card that will override precedents.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    One thing that comes to mind for me is that the Catholic “Scripture + church tradition” is an interesting parallel of the modern “Constitution + case law” interpretation of our laws. No longer does it seem that the Constitution alone is a trump card that will override precedents.

  • Anon

    I suspect the level of the President’s catechesis is fairly low. Probably in the unreflective post-evangelical stream. As such, he sees the Pope as a Christian leader of moral authority and theological accumen. Which is true as far as it goes.

  • Anon

    I suspect the level of the President’s catechesis is fairly low. Probably in the unreflective post-evangelical stream. As such, he sees the Pope as a Christian leader of moral authority and theological accumen. Which is true as far as it goes.


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